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What is Spread Betting and How Does It Work? [Examples]

Spread betting is a type of sports betting where the stake is placed on the accurate outcome instead of the fixed choice of a winner. So, a bettor deals with digital performances like scores in the form of totals or point spreads. Even if the rules seem to be rather complicated, this activity is still very exciting due to the high returns and high risks it entails at the same time. Here you have to bet under conditions of extreme volatility.

Continue reading to learn all you need to know about spread betting in order to get a profit from it.

What Is Sports Spread Betting?

When you are going to benefit from spread betting, you are expected to place a bet on some point suggested by a sportsbook. This way is not so easy as a moneyline, where you should choose a winner regardless of the score. Beginners usually feel confused, but in fact, the rules are not very difficult.

This form of betting is especially popular in basketball and football. You must predict the outcome of a considered sports event within a certain range of points. If your assumptions are right, you will win and get back your deposit. If your prediction is wrong, you will lose your stake. Let’s consider the examples, which allow you to get a comprehensive idea of this betting type.

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The favorite

In any sporting event, there is a favorite, which is a player or team expected to win with a high probability. You will recognize it by a minus symbol located next to the number of the point spread. You can find this definition and other terms in our betting glossary.


Team 1 (-7.5).

A bettor, who has placed a stake on it will get his winnings if this team wins by eight or more points in this game. So, their score should be higher compared with the assigned point spread.

The underdog

If there is a winner, it means that there is a loser. In sports betting, a player or team that will highly likely lose the game is known as an underdog. They come with a plus sign set in front of the number.


Team 1 (+4.5).

A bettor, who has placed a stake on it will get his winnings if a rival loses by four points or plays even worse in this game. So, their score should be worse compared with the assigned point spread.

How to Read the Odds on a Spread with Examples?

The point spread is set in accordance with an analytics review predicting the outcome of the sports event. Also, bookmakers include their margin. It is suggested that a bettor investigate the sport and conditions of the coming event and decide on the result, choosing among the offered variants.

There are points of diverse nature, like:

  • It can be the total number of goals. For instance, the favorite is thought to win with a score of –5, while the underdog is believed to lose with a score of +3. The total will be – 2 (=(-5) + (+3)).
  • It can be the time when the first goal will be made if we speak about a football match.
  • It can be the difference between the winning horse and the one following it if we speak about a race.

There are lots of them. We’ll not create an exhaustive list, but we hope that the concept is clear.

When a bettor tries to predict the outcome and place a bet on the point spread, he should consider a long range of factors impacting the result of the sports event. For instance, one of the most important factors is a home-field advantage.


  • If Team 1 plays at home, it can be believed that it will win by 10.5 points.
  • If Team 1 plays in a foreign city or country, it can be believed that it will win by 4.5 points (put it that way).

You can compare the huge difference in predicted points arising from the place the team is going to play. The reasons for such a gap are the support of fans, the atmosphere of the location, and the panel of judges. Also, it is not wise to rely on the fact that the team is favored in the sports event and will be able to cover the spread. They’ll probably win, but they can fail to meet the expectations of the sportsbook as to the score.

That is why a bettor should do research and learn as much as he can about the team (or player), including the latest news and recent statistics. Only such an approach will help to guess the value of point spreads.

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How to calculate Payouts & Losses in sports spread betting [Example]?

So, once again, in sports spread betting, the sense is how much a bettor is wrong or right by and how much money the accurate prediction will bring. In this paragraph, we’ll explain how to understand potential profits or losses on a sports spread bet. Besides, we recommend looking at our 10 golden rules on how to bet in 2022.

There are two interdependent variables: the amount a bettor should place as a wager and the amount a bettor will get if he guesses the outcome or loses if he does not guess. There are fixed odds where a bettor is just right or wrong. But when we speak about spread betting, we mean that a bettor should be very close to the specified points to win more (or lose less). Here, a bettor should be skilled enough to understand the outcome and judge the teams. It is necessary to have and use knowledge of the environment, history, and lots of other things.

Let’s remember that there are three key types of odds, which differ in the way they are assigned and read. If we take the European or decimal odds, we’ll see the number of a bettor’s winnings, provided that he has placed a bet of $1. So, if a player bets $100, the odds should be multiplied by the amount of this stake. The payout will be the accumulated sum, as it includes the bet. The loss is equal to the wager.


The Team 1 (5.2).

If you bet $100 on this team, you will get $520 (100 x 5.2). The payout will be $520 as the amount includes your bet and pure winning is equal to $520 – $100 = $420. It is clear that the higher the score is, the more money you will get as your winnings. If the odds of Team 1 are (7), you will get 100 x 7 = 700, including your wager ($100) and your prize ($600). If you lose, the loss will be $100.

In the case of sports spread betting, the calculation is different. Here the spread is a prediction for the considered sports event, specified as a range. Winnings and losses here are not defined with the help of odds. They depend on the difference between an actual outcome and a prediction.


The spread for total goals in a football match is 2.8 – 3.0.

  • If you believe that the outcome will be higher than 3.0, you should buy. The buying price is 3.0. The higher the actual outcome is, the more you win.

Let’s say the outcome is 4.2. The winning will be calculated on basis of the difference between the actual outcome and the higher score in a range: 4,2 – 3,0 = 1,2. This gap is multiplied by your wager to calculate your winnings. Let’s say you place a bet in the amount of $100. Your winnings will be $100 x 1,2 = $120.

Now let’s say that you buy, but the outcome is 2. The difference is 2 – 3 = -1. This performance is multiplied by your wager to calculate the loss. Let’s say you place a bet in the amount of $100. Your losses will be $100 x(-1)= -$100.

  • If you believe that the outcome will be lower than 2.8, you should sell. The selling price is 2.8. The lower the actual outcome is, the more you win.

Let’s say the outcome is 2. The winning will be calculated on basis of the difference between the actual outcome and the higher score in a range: 2,8– 2,0 = 0,8. This gap is multiplied by your wager to calculate your winning. let’s say you place a bet in the amount of $100. Your winnings will be $100 x 0,8 = $80. If no goals are scored, 2, 8 – 0 = 2, 8 and your winnings are $100 x 2,8 = $280.

If the outcome is 3 goals, you lose 2,8- 3 = – 0,2. Your loss will be $100 x 0,2 = -$20. The calculation is applied to any score which is higher than the selling price.

When you buy, you should subtract the purchase price from the outcome. If the result is positive, you’ll win. If the result is negative, you’ll lose. 

When you sell, you should subtract the outcome from the selling price. If the result is positive, you’ll win. If the result is negative, you’ll lose. 

We hope that the above explanation will allow you to calculate your benefits and risks when you consider various sports spreads. It is not complicated at all when you make an effort and follow the examples from the beginning to the end thoroughly.  Still, if you feel confused, you can prefer simpler betting types, for example, the moneyline.

How to Bet the Spread Online?

It is easy to place bets online nowadays. All that you are expected to do is find the appropriate sportsbook and log in, following the corresponding instructions.

We recommend looking at our reviews. We help you to find trusted betting sites.

Then, the actions are almost the same on any betting website:

  1. Look through the sports offered by the service provider and click on the one you want to place a bet on.
  2. There will be a list of games and predicted point spreads, which should be investigated. Calculate your winnings and losses.
  3. When you have decided on your choice, click on the points with a “-” sign or the points with a “+” sign. Remember that the former are the favorites and the latter are the underdogs.
  4. Complete the process by placing your bet.

What’s the Playing Difference Between Spread Betting and Moneyline?

If point spread betting is confusing and you do not want to make a mistake when placing a bet, you can consider the other types. The simplest one is a moneyline. Here you are expected to place a bet on the team that you believe will win or lose. If your guess is right, you will win. It means that you should not predict the score. Just choose favorites or underdogs and wait for the outcome. Sometimes, sportsbooks offer the third choice – a draw position. So, if you suppose that both teams finish the game with the same number of goals, you can bet on this option.

The difference between spread betting and moneyline betting is obvious. The former betting type assumes that you will buy or sell at the specified price, and your winnings or losses will depend on the number of points by which the outcome differs from the buy/sell price. While in the case of a moneyline, your winnings or losses will depend on your ability to guess the team without any other additional details (scores, time, or whatever). Just answer the question: Who wins (or loses) the current game?

7 Main Advantages of Sports Spread Betting

Let’s summarize the above information and specify the key benefits of sports spread betting especially if you have been involved in traditional fixed odds betting.

1. The Bigger Potential Winnings for Sports Funs

If you have ever placed a bet using fixed odds, also known as traditional betting, you know that there are only two possible outcomes: your guess is correct or incorrect, meaning that you either win or lose the fixed amount. But with sports spread betting, the amount you can win or lose depends on the score. In other words, not only the outcome is important, but also the exact number of goals. Thus, you can win quite a lot if you are correct to the fullest degree. When you use the fixed odds, you will earn only that amount established with the odds.

2. The Risk is Not as Great as You Think

You can lose with spread betting as with any betting type, but here the chances to lose a deposit are much lower. You can choose the size of your bet and mitigate your risks, or on the contrary, increase your risks if you are mistaken and your winnings if you are correct. You can also manage risk by choosing the time when you place a wager. The spreads move from the time they are set to the beginning of the sports event. They can be adjusted during the event. Apply this tool to get some kind of guarantee that you’ll gain or reduce your losses.

3. More Markets, More Variety, More Opportunities

Spread betting is very popular. That is why you can find it in a wide range of sports and in numerous conditions. There are many more options if you compare this betting type with others. For example, you are permitted to place new bets or replace existing bets during a game if you believe you can profit more or suffer from excessive losses.

sport spread betting.jpg

4. Spread Bet In-Play

In-play betting is possible. You can close out bets completely or partially during the game.

5. Bet Over a Whole Meeting or Tournament Rather Than Specific Race or Match

Here you can choose bets for various periods of time and various events, like a single match or an entire sports tournament. Every sport offers options. If you bet on horse races, you can place a wager on winning distances, for instance.

6. Bet on Specific Players or Jockeys

Chooses any player to place your bet on. You are expected to predict his performance in the football match or the tournament. If you are involved in horse racing, you can bet on a horse or on a jockey.

7. No Limit on Winning

As we have mentioned, in this betting type, your winnings are not restricted by odds or any other limits set by some sportsbooks. Moreover, your account will never be closed, as is possible when choosing other betting types. The reason is that spread betting companies earn on the differences between the buy and sell prices and do not suffer from frequent and continuous winners compared with traditional bookmakers.

Tips for Sports Spread Betting Beginners

Now, we are going to give you some tips that will help you capture the full benefits of this betting type. Of course, the below information is not a magic wand guaranteeing your success, but by following the recommendations, you will increase your chances of making money with this tool.

Use Multiple Betting Sites

It is suggested you sign in on several sports betting websites as point spreads are different and you have the possibility to investigate the quotation market and choose the most favorable conditions. It will take you a lot of time and effort, but it provides you with some additional benefits.

Note that the difference can be a half-point only, but it still increases your potential gain.

Focus on Those Sports and Markets that You Are Already Familiar With

It is vital to know the sport you are going to bet on. If you want to win constantly, take betting as an intellectual activity instead of pure gambling. Here you are expected to do research, understand factors impacting the outcome, know the players, and comprehend the game itself. You can try leaving things to chance, but this approach is too risky for continuous engagement in sports betting.

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Consider Key Numbers

In sports spread betting, there are key numbers. In particular, they work in football. The point is that in this sport, games are commonly decided by 3 or 7 points. Take into account these statistics when you place a bet.

Understand the Difference in Volatility in Different Markets

There is a rather high level of volatility in spread betting markets, and you should get insight into this subject to manage your risk. What do we mean? You can find an offer to place a bet on total goal minutes or total goals in football. You should be aware that the former is much more volatile, which means that a wrong prediction is quite possible and you can lose your money with a high probability.

Bet with Small Stakes as a Beginner

If you just start betting, do not stake a large amount because you are not experienced and a mistake is highly possible. You should learn all the rules, understand the available options, and become aware of the sport.

Think of the Worst-case Scenario

Remove the idea of false dawn when over-optimism makes you place a risky bet because of the high potential profit. Do not forget about the worst-case scenario and consider it every time you want to earn more.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

Understand your limits. We mean, you should have a budget for betting and avoid exceeding it. Financial management will prevent you from runaway spending, as in spread betting, losses are possible when you bet without comprehending the sport.

Check the Betting Rules

Ensure that you understand the betting rules when you join a new sportsbook or when you are going to place every bet. It is important because the rules, even for various wagers, can be different without mentioning the betting rules of various service providers. There are a lot of options you should look into in order to calculate your potential winnings and losses correctly.

Keep Watching!

When you prefer betting in-play, you should be fast in your response to the changes related to the sports event you are betting on.

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Enjoy and have a fun play!

You should have fun when you are involved in spread betting. This is a perfect way to gain money and even earn a living if you decide to make it your main source of income. Keep your cool, have your wits about the possible losses, and take a break if you feel that the result does not meet your expectations in order to learn more about the rules and restart with a better understanding.


If you have read this article by the end, you will definitely feel more confident about point spread bets. This is not a complicated betting type, but it requires your attention, engagement, and some practice.

You will succeed in this activity if you do research and predict wisely, considering the above information. We warn against carefree attitudes. Betting is not as simple as it seems, but it is an engrossing activity that brings in quite large amounts of money. The point spread bets are almost the highest in the sports betting industry.


How does spread betting differs from fixed odds betting?

The key difference is the diversity of outcomes that are considered when your winnings or losses are calculated. With fixed odds, you have predetermined winnings or losses that are calculated on a simple ‘win or lose basis.

Are there disadvantages to sports spread betting?

If we have an advantage in sports spread betting, which is the potential for large winnings, we should also mention that the disadvantage is the potential for large losses. Balance these two parameters, and you will achieve the most stable result. However, if you are focused on big wins, you should be prepared for big losses as well.

What does +7.5 spread mean in betting?

+7.5 spread is about an underdog in a sports event. If you place your bet on this team and they lose by 7 or fewer points, you will win.

How do you read a sports spread?

When you see a “+” sign next to the number, this is an underdog who is believed to lose. When you see a “-” sign next to the number, this is a favorite who is believed to win. The former “gets” points, and the latter “gives” points.

What is a push in spread betting?

If the outcome matches the number of the spread, it is called a push. For example, you place a bet on Team 1 (-4), and this team wins by four. It means your bet is “push”. In this case, your money will be refunded and the bet will end in a tie.

Are spread betting earnings limited?

There are no earning limits in this type of sports betting. You can earn as much as you want. But, there are limits related to your losses in the form of negative balance protection.

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